Most great writers are jerks; you know this if you go to book talks or listen to C-SPAN. They have lots of excuses but the fact remains. So, it is a real pleasure to recommend good books written by good people, even more because good books for Teens are so rare:
1)Chris Gardner: Start where you are
Gardner puts just as much effort telling you what could make you successful as he did to raise himself out of poverty. The book is well organized and full of examples and can reach any teen searching his way. There is sincerity in every page which I appreciated because most books about success are filled with fillers, truisms and half-truths. There is real experience here and a constant effort to lay down the rules. Buy the book and leave it in the living room: it will find its way to the teens living with you.
There are a few things that Gardner does not much talk about: part of what made him, and because it is part of him, he does not realize how important it was to his success. First is his constant curiosity: he is curious of other people, of what makes them tick, of what is going out in the world. I think that it is pretty hard to be successful if you go in life mentally blind to the world around you.
Second is his immense capacity to do dull work. There is nothing as discouraging as cold calls in business: you call people you do not know to sell them something, 99 percent of the time, they hang up on you, and that is when they do not insult you, so your capacity to be rejected has to be pretty good to go on doing it. Now Chris Gardner, when he started, decided to give 200 calls a day. Superman does that! Suppose you tell a class of teenagers that if they do it for a year, they will have a comfortable position in life, how many would still do it after three days?
Third is his capacity to admire: Gardner is able to learn from anybody: poor or rich people, nice people or not: if there is something useful to him, he will take the lesson with him and remember it.
These three characteristics define more than Chris Gardner, they define many successful people from different horizons like Mark H. McCormack (What They Don't Teach You At Harvard Business School) or Quincy Jones. Quincy authored the most beautiful biography, but it is not for kids.
Curious, hardworking, able to admire others and learn from them: that what makes not only successful people but heroes.
2) John Grisham :Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer Grisham has written a thriller for teenagers which is intelligent, taut, full of indirect advice and delightful. Of all the successful writers or legal thrillers than I read, Grisham is the only one who always wonders what is the right thing to do: this is something any teen should be interested about, and it is the subject of this book.